The pundits, reporters, and naysayers are all offering their opinions as to why young people don’t show up to the polls and why we are not a reliable voting demographic. On top of that, southern states are experiencing voter disenfranchisement on a scale that we have not seen in several decades. Now we are hearing that as much as 10% of all mail ballots in the state of Florida are rejected for a multitude of reasons. All of this adds up to a whole lot of confusion, misinformation and voter fatigue.
Despite the institutional barriers, the young people in Pinellas County and around the country know that change is possible. That is why the Pinellas County Young Democrats have put together this guide to making sure your vote counts in Pinellas County.
What is the Best Way to Vote?
There are three (3) basic ways to vote in Pinellas County, Florida: Vote-by-Mail, Early Voting (In Person) and Election Day (In Person).
The best way to ensure you vote is counted, is to VOTE EARLY. Voting early can mean either voting by mail or in person at one of the Early Voting locations. Once you have voted, you can check the status of your ballot with the Supervisor of Elections. If there is an issue with your ballot, you have the right to request another.
Voting by mail is the easiest and most convenient form of voting in Pinellas County and can be completed in your pajamas while trying to figure out your next Netflix binge. Any registered voter may vote by mail. The best part is that there is no need to remember election dates or the subtle differences in ballot initiatives. You can research your elections and vote at the same time.
How do I Vote By Mail?
The first step is to sign up for Vote by Mail. Visit StamptheVote.com to request your mail ballot.
All voters are encouraged to vote by mail and avoid standing in line for the same ballot at the polls. All requests for ballots to be mailed must be received no later than 5 p.m. on the 6th day before an election. A request for a ballot to be mailed to an address other than the voter’s address on file with the Supervisor of Elections must be made in writing and signed by the voter. Voters may pick up mail ballots in person through the day before Election Day. Convenient ballot drop-off locations are available during designated dates and times throughout the county.
If you have received a Vote-by-Mail Ballot follow these easy steps and Make Democracy Count:
- Fill out the ballot completely, don’t forget the smaller races at the bottom of the ballot and making your choices known on the Amendment, Ballot Initiatives, and Referendum Questions.
- Put it in the protective sleeve
- Put your ballot in the ballot envelope and seal it closed
- Sign your ballot in the manner filed on your voter registration on file with the Supervisor of Elections.
- Apply postage ONE BALLOT REQURES $0.71 Postage (or two, $0.50 forever stamps).
- Put your ballot in the mailbox or take it to the Post Office or Drop it off at one of the Ballot Drop Locations.
How do I Vote Early?
If you are not going to Vote-By-Mail, you should still vote early. In 2018, there were five early voting locations in North, Central, and South parts of Pinellas County. Official voting locations and times are subject to change, visit VotePinellas.com for the most up-to-date information.
What if My Ballot is Rejected?
This is why we suggest voting early. Mainly because there is still time to fix it! You still have the right to cast a ballot. Once you have voted, you can track the status of your ballot on VotePinellas.com. If your ballot is not accepted, call the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections Office at 727-464-VOTE (8683) for how to best proceed.
What if I Want to Vote on Election Day?
Just… VOTE! What matters most is that you do it. Go get that sticker and wear it proudly!
If you really dig voting in person and requested a mail ballot, you may forfeit your mail ballot your polling location.
If you are not Voting-By-Mail or Voting Early, you will have to vote at your voter precinct polling place. Your precinct information is located on your Voter Information Card, or you can find your voting location by using the Vote Pinellas Precinct Finder.
What Else do I Need to Know?
The Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections website has any additional information that you might need. We suggest you browse their Election Day Checklist and the What to Expect at the Polls page. If you have any additional questions, call 727-464-VOTE (8683) or email Election@VotePinellas.com.